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Julian Stokes

Turning back time

July 13, 2010 at 10:08 AM

They say that no matter how successful you are, you beome a child again when in the company of your parents. And to a degree for me, I think it is true. When I talk to or visit my mother I instantly revert back to being "the boy".

What I hadn't bargained for was something similar to happen in my interaction with my violin teacher.

We will be working on ABRSM grade 5 material with a view to taking the exam at the next opportunity. But as my rehabilitation (now 3 months on) from my 30 year absence continues, we're still working on a few pieces from the Grade 4 book.

At home when I practise La Cumparasita, the classic tango tune, I am a haughty Spaniard. I lead my partner across the dance floor, eyes flashing, heels clicking, red rose between my teeth. Master of all I survey, even the running bulls of Pamplona scatter when they see me.

Then there's the Valse Lente by C Bohm. Andre Rieu has nothing on me. Even my heart is beating in 3/4 time as I take the stand. The first 3 notes flying stacatto leap up into endless swirls of effortless elegance, the melody flows from my fingers, my playing is the epitome of grace. Enraptured and entranced, my audience (2 dogs and a teddy bear) swoon at my feet.

In front of the teacher, despite my almost religious adherence to at least an hour a day, I become my 14 year old self who has done no practise for a month.

La Cumparisita:
"Grind, scratch, scrape, scrape. My fingers don't work"
"Screech, grind, slip, scrape. I sound like a berk"

And the Valse Lente - well today after a couple of notes and messed up harmonics, the bow did the honorable thing and spontaneously slackened off; bringing to an end today's lesson.

From Bart Meijer
Posted on July 13, 2010 at 11:44 AM

That teddy bear could be significant. Could you tell us more about that?

From Julian Stokes
Posted on July 13, 2010 at 12:06 PM

I should take him to lessons with me?

From Bart Meijer
Posted on July 13, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Hmm.. Interesting.. Please go on..

From Neil Nelson
Posted on July 13, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Just imagine that your instructor is your teddy?

From Julian Stokes
Posted on July 14, 2010 at 7:16 AM

Neil - I tried that but now my teddy has taken the place of my instructor and intimidates me - just the dogs left and they're looking restless...

From Sari Beastall
Posted on July 15, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I recommend asking your teacher to dress in a teddy bear suit.

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on July 15, 2010 at 2:30 PM

A-HA!!!  Thank Heaven -- another adult Teddy Bear aficionado!!!  I have them scattered throughout my house.   Great audience -- I never see them wince at the bad notes!

From David Rose
Posted on July 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

"In front of the teacher, despite my almost religious adherence to at least an hour a day, I become my 14 year old self who has done no practise for a month."

I so TOTALLY relate to this comment.  Even though I left my undergrad teacher in the mid 90's, when I saw him last summer, and he passed me a viola to try, I felt like a child and completely splatted all over the instrument.

When leaving his home, my wife said, "What the heck was that?!?!  I've never heard you play that badly before!"

I really did laugh when I read your comment.  Funny how all teachers want is for one to play well and be confident, yet in their presence often this is very hard to do.



From Theodor Taimla
Posted on July 15, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Haha, that happens to me from time to time too! My best bet is to wait till my teacher leaves for 5 minutes and be already playing when he comes back. As for teddy bears, I have LOADS of them. My sister (twin) just cannot give them away. But I have better audience, it's a parrot.. It even sings a long! :D


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on July 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Hi, Interesting discussion...

Bart, don't laugh about teady bears!  : )

I have one that slept beside me for 16 years (still do now and will always do)! 

I had it when I was 5!  (of course, I try to always dust it and wash it the best I can even though I wouldn't want to look at it with a microscope lol...) 

It's true that he's the best and most faithful audience...  and I'm even sure he would be a far better violinist than me with his bear paws  : )

Of course, I include my buggies in the "best audience" price winners! 


And Neil, be careful with your advice, it doesn't really apply for those who actually put their teddy bears in their bed as a "toutou" !?!?!?


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